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Trigger Points

A Trigger Point(TP) is a small, precise spot of pain that is found in a tight muscle.Not all tight muscles develop TPs, but a TP only deveops in a tight muscle.The pain of a TP manifests itself in various ways. It has been described as

  • Tender
  • Sore
  • ‘Feels like a bruise”
  • Painful
  • “Feels like someone someone is pushing a knitting needle into me

TP pain often refers itself to another part of the body.

Types of trigger Points

There are 2 main types of Trigger Points.

1. Active:  The pain is felt during the course of daily activity. A common eperience, is pain between the shoulder blades.

2. Latent(Hidden): The pain is only felt when pressure is applied to the point. Typically when the person is having a massage.
Most of us have latent TPs in our calf muscles. We feel no pain on a daily basis, but a masage will certainly reveal them.

TP are very small and also very precise. During a massage, the client will be able to tell whether the therapist is pushing exactly on the TP, or is even 5 mm away from the point.

A good massage therapist will ask for feedback from the client. Although the therapist can feel the tight muscle, and also know that a TP may be there, only the client can feel the pain or its intensity.


There are a number of treatments for TP. The one outlined here is the most commonly used.

To treat a TP the therapist will apply a steady pressure to the TP. The therapist will check in with the client to ensure that the pain elicited is no more than 7 on the client’s personal pain scale of 0-10. A 7 means that the spot is sore, but bearable. Too much pain will cause the muscles to ‘guard’ themselves by tightening.

After a while you will feel the pain start to decrease. At first it may feel as though nothing is happening. The pain may also travel to another part of the body, but as the pressure is maintained, the pain will recede back to the original spot.

The therapist will apply a firmer pressure, and the pain may return, but it will be less than the initial pain. During this whole process the tight muscle is releasing. The client may even feel a movement as the muscle lets go.

Treatment of Trigger Points is a very effective method of relieving muscle pain. Even though one treatment (the ‘miracle cure’) may be enough to eradicate a TP, usually it will take a number of treatments.

Unless the client changes the lifestyle factors that brought on the trigger point in the first place, then a TP will keep recurring.

Trigger points can effectively be self treated. Self treament of pain between the shoulder blades is explained here.

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